US bid to seize Iranian tanker halts its release from Gibraltar
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday submitted a last-minute request to the government of Gibraltar to let it seize the Iranian oil tanker that was captured by UK Marines last month. This move postpones a possible tanker swap between the UK and Iran, which seized a UK vessel last month in retaliation for the incident in Gibraltar. The DoJ did not elaborate on why it had applied to seize the Iranian tanker.
Tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have escalated in the last months. In July, the US accused Iran of carrying out attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Since that month, Iran has also seized at least three foreign vessels in the Persian Gulf. Iran is frustrated with US sanctions on the country and has accused the UK and other European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal of not doing enough to ease the impact of those sanctions.